I am awful with dates. I just can’t keep the grid of a calendar straight in my head and constantly get mixed up. Last week, I thought I was due to write this email and had planned to write a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Then Alison happened to tell me that my turn to write wasn’t for another week, and that her message on Sunday would be a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Times like these I can only conclude that the Spirit is trying to say something and it pays to listen up.
What had struck me on this reading of Zaccheus is what he was willing to give up in order to experience Jesus for himself. As a Chief Tax Collector I presume he was a man of ledgers and here was one for him to balance: there on the first side was status, dignity and power. On the second side there was admitting he was just too short for the crowd and taking a chance that they might see up his robes if a gust of wind blew the wrong way.
On the first side, there was the likelihood that he would later hear about what Jesus did from others in the crowd, even if he didn’t get to see them himself. On the second side was the urge to get a glimpse of Jesus with his own eyes.
He balanced the ledger and the second side won: a personal encounter with Jesus was more important than social norms and keeping up the expectations of his role in the community. He cast these aside and scaled the sycamore – and lo and behold, next thing Christ was in his dwelling.
It made me reflect: what are on each side of our ledgers?
What expectations and roles do we have, that block or crowd out our chance to see Jesus intimately in our daily lives?
What might be our sycamore – our chance to break free of the crowd and encounter Jesus more personally?
Are you happy to rely on the crowd to pass on what Jesus got up to, or do you have a deeper urge to see him with your own eyes?
Of course I can’t answer for you, but I know my own answers and have a hunch they may resonate with others as well…
… Zaccheus was crowded out of seeing Jesus by his height; in modern society we are crowded out of spending time in our faith by our busy busy busy lives.
…the sycamore gave Zaccheus height; perhaps carving out time and space for our faith is how we deal with our crowd.
…this may mean saying no to roles and social expectations; but hey, in Zaccheus we have a pretty great example of someone who took that risk, and was greatly rewarded with a deeper and personal encounter with Christ.
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